In Pursuit of God’s Spirit
By Peter Amsterdam
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“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God’s Spirit within us empowers, changes, transforms, reforms, inspires, and moves us to do God’s will, whether it’s to love others, to witness, to teach, to preach, to speak, to create. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God who dwells within us, and it is the Holy Spirit’s transformative influence that guides our conscience and empowers us to live according to God’s truth.
God’s Spirit speaks to us through His words, first through the Bible and then through other means, whether the writings or words of others, or through prophecy. The Word prepares the ground of our hearts for the work of the Holy Spirit and opens our hearts, minds, and spirits to the influence of the Spirit.
We are compelled to follow the moral code God has placed in our hearts, so that our actions are driven by love and integrity. As with other things, how a person responds to the conviction of the Spirit in his or her life is a matter of personal choice and faith, but it is important to do our part to strive to be open and adaptable to the movement of the Spirit in our hearts and lives.
A key element in letting God guide us, in finding His leading, and following Him is to be grounded in His Word, by seeking to know and understand the truth of His Word. The Bible is God revealing Himself to humankind. It’s through understanding the Word of God that we discover God’s plan for us.
The next step is living that truth in our daily lives, to the best of our ability, by God’s grace. In order to live that truth, we need to understand that truth. To understand it, we need to pursue it, which means to work at it, to spend some time at it.
When Jesus was asked which was the most important of God’s commandments, He said to love God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He specifically mentioned the mind.1 Desiring to know and understand God’s Word requires using your mind. It requires taking time to not just read, but to learn, to study, to grow in understanding. As we understand who He is through comprehending His divine nature, it increases our love for Him, our awe of His power, love, and wisdom. Knowing Him better draws us closer to Him.
Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), who produced the well-known movie The Ten Commandments, said: “After more than 60 years of almost daily reading of the Bible, I never fail to find it always new and marvellously in tune with the changing needs of every day.”
Of course, the Bible isn’t the only book in the world one should read, but it is a book that should be read, meditated upon, studied, and absorbed over and over again. After all, it’s the book that reveals what God has told us about Himself. It contains His words to us, His answers to the life we live as well as information regarding the life to come. It teaches us how to interact with Him, how to become more like Him. And above all, it tells us how to enter into a relationship with Him, to receive Him into our life, to become connected with Him.
Reading, believing, and absorbing God’s Word profoundly changes us. As D. L. Moody (1837–1899) said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.”
Charles Colson (1931–2012) said: “The Bible—banned, burned, beloved—is more widely read, more frequently attacked than any other book in history. Generations of intellectuals have attempted to discredit it, dictators of every age have outlawed it and executed those who read it. Yet soldiers carry it into battle believing it more powerful than their weapons. Fragments of it smuggled into solitary prison cells have transformed ruthless killers into gentle saints.”
As you might know, Charles Colson was a Special Counsel to U.S. President Nixon. He served seven months in a federal prison and was the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges. As Colson was facing arrest, his close friend gave him a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, which, after reading it, led Colson to become a Christian. His life was changed forever.
Our lives are made better when we absorb God’s Word. It takes work to read and study His Word, but as we do we become more strongly connected to God and His Spirit. As we make the effort to spend regular time reading His words, as we discipline ourselves to put in the necessary time and effort, if we’re willing to pursue it, we will dwell richly in Him. Spending time with His Word is spending time with Him.
As one author said, we don’t have to read Scripture. We want to read Scripture. We get to read Scripture. It’s our privilege. No one should tell me, “You have to kiss your wife.” No. I get to kiss her, I want to kiss her. Because I love her.2
We who are passionate about God, who love Him, who are willing to pursue His Spirit, want to know all we can about Him. We want to hear from Him and follow Him, and one of the primary ways to do so is spending time reading His Word. We don’t study simply because we want to gain a greater knowledge about God and His divine nature. We do it because we want to know Him better, to love Him more, and to have Him participate in our lives. We desire His guidance, to hear His voice, to follow where He leads.
God speaks to us in a variety of ways, and we can hear Him if we listen. We listen when we meditate on His Word, when we ask Him to show us how to apply what we’ve read in our daily lives. We also listen when we get quiet within ourselves and give Him the opportunity to speak to us. This too takes effort, as we open our hearts to His voice, being ready for however He wants to speak to us, whether it’s through thoughts that He brings to our minds, through His voice in prophecy, through His written Word, or by speaking to us through other Christians. The key is being open, quieting our spirits, listening, and being attentive.
It’s a privilege that God wants to speak to us individually. And He will if we set time aside to hear from Him—either in prophecy or through His still small voice or the voice of the Word. The Bible reveals to us the general will of God, but not the specific will of God for the individual. God expects that each of us will seek Him for His guidance and for how to specifically apply His general will in our lives.
God is our life partner. He wants to be active in our lives. He wants to lead us and help us to make good decisions. Following Him is allowing Him to have influence in our lives; it’s consciously asking Him for His guidance and doing what He shows us. It’s having a conversation with Him, speaking with Him as you would those you are closest to, and listening to His still small voice.
God loves us, He’s on our side, and we can trust Him. When we do that, He will not fail us; He will lead us. As we pursue God’s Spirit, as we put in the effort to connect with Him through His Word, through listening to His voice, and as we follow Him, we will live God-centered, God-filled, God-directed lives, full of love, joy, and great satisfaction.
Originally published September 2013. Excerpted and republished April 2018.
Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
1 Mark 12:30.
2 Tony Merida, “Letting the Word Dwell in You Richly”.